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Pirates of the Caribbean

The Disney film series, Pirates of the Caribbean, has turned into a major franchise since the first movie was released back in 2003. Starring Johnny Depp as pirate captain Jack Sparrow, the first swashbuckling adventure was based on Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean ride at their theme parks.

Costing $140 million to make, the film was a major hit that grossed a massive $654.3 million at the box office worldwide. Depp starred alongside Orlando Bloom as Will Turner - a blacksmith's apprentice at Port Royal, Jamaica, who falls in love with wealthy Elizabeth Swann, the governor's daughter, played by Keira Knightley.

The trio is thrown together after Captain Sparrow saves Elizabeth's life when she faints and falls into the ocean, constricted by the fashionably-tight corset ladies wore in the 18th century. Their meeting leads them on a rollercoaster journey involving a pirate ship called the Black Pearl.


Cursed crew

The cursed crew has become the undead after stealing gold coins with supernatural powers. They can become human again only by returning the haul of coins - but one is missing and they can't lift the curse without it.

When they mistakenly believe Elizabeth is the daughter of a pirate, Bootstrap Bill Turner, they kidnap her, believing she holds the key to their salvation. Can Jack and Will save her - and will Jack be able to get his ship, the Black Pearl, back from its cursed crew, who had mutinied against him in the past?

As there are five films in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, it's not too much of a spoiler alert to assume Elizabeth survives!


Best actor awards

Depp won the Screen Actors 'Guild Award, the MTV Movie Award and the Empire Award for best male actor for Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. He was also nominated for Academy, BAFTA and Golden Globe awards for his portrayal of Jack Sparrow.

The franchise continued with four further Pirates of the Caribbean films, including Dead Man's Chest in 2006, At World's End in 2007, On Stranger Tides in 2011 and Dead Men Tell No Tales in 2017. Each film tells a different story, but they all follow the adventures of Captain Jack Sparrow, Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann.


The Black Pearl

The story of the pirate ship is fascinating in its own right. Easily recognised by her distinctive black sails and hull, the fictional Black Pearl in the film franchise is said to be so fast, she's just about impossible to catch.

In the first three films, she manages to evade every ship that chases her, including the Navy's fastest vessel, the Interceptor. In fact, she is noted as being the only ship that can outrun the legendary Flying Dutchman - another pirate ship in the Caribbean, captained by Davy Jones and based on the real-life nautical legend of a ghost ship doomed to sail the seas for all eternity.

The actual vessel used in the films to portray the Black Pearl is the Sunset, which is a regular propeller-driven boat, with a set resembling a tall ship built over it. Prior to starring in Pirates of the Caribbean, the Sunset was a former craft used to service oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico.


Building a pirate ship

Before the Sunset became the Black Pearl, there wasn't an actual ship and the pirate vessel was merely a film set built on top of a barge! However, the action was limited by the dimensions of the barge and the production crew required more freedom, so the Sunset was acquired.

She was docked in Bayou La Batre, Alabama, during the refurbishment, having sailed almost 2,000 miles. Having an actual sea-worthy vessel made a big difference to the action in the films.

The ship was redesigned after the first film by the production design team, led by Rick Heinrichs. Prior to the making of On Stranger Tides, the 2011 film, it was decided to redesign the Sunset again. The Black Pearl didn't fit into the plot, so the Sunset was reborn as the Queen Anne's Revenge.

The Revenge was the famous ship belonging to the villainous Blackbeard. It was supposed to be the most imposing ship on the high seas, so the production team, led by John Myhre, turned the two-storey ship into a more impressive three-and-a-half-storey ship instead.


Visual effects

In the plot, the ship was made out of the bones of Blackbeard's victims. The rather horrific idea was based on a church that Myhre remembered in Kutna Hora, in the Czech Republic - the famous "Church of Bones", Kostnice, was literally decorated with bones. Myhre decided to use the same décor on the Queen Anne's Revenge.

Whatever vessel the Sunset was portraying, further masts and sails were also added later by the visual effects team. The computer-generated imagery applied in the post-production stages of the films gave the pirate ships a more dramatic effect.

In 2016, the bow used on the Queen Anne's Revenge was put on public display in Rosethorn Park, Lafitte, Louisiana.

Coruba stocks a wide range of marine and boat products, including rubber fenders to serve as a cushion for boats when approaching the dock, helping to prevent damage to the vessel. Please contact us for further details of our comprehensive range of rubber products.

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